There is apparently plenty of interest in ICQ, the instant messaging platform that AOL
Russia's Vedomosti -- a business daily -- is reporting that three companies have submitted binding offers to buy ICQ. The bidders include China's Tencent (OTC BB: TCTZF.PK) and Russia's ProfMedia and Digital Sky Technologies. It's not a surprise to see the hungriest buyers coming from abroad, given ICQ's global popularity.
Web-based chat platforms are popular among search engines. Microsoft
The problem with IM formats is that they have been tricky to monetize, perhaps explaining why Google
Online chat does have promising corporate applications. LivePerson
It also doesn't help that social-networking giant Facebook is offering text chats between friends within its own platform.
Any sale that involves more than one potential buyer typically benefits the seller, and the sale of ICQ will be no different. AOL was spun off by Time Warner
It may be too late for AOL to sell its fading access business, but with a former Google executive in charge, one shouldn't dismiss its potential to matter again in cyberspace. The game may be addition by subtraction at the moment, but selling what's hot is better than breaking into a fire sale.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if AOL will ever party like it's 1999. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy, and it's got mail.